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Poland marks Armed Forces Day and Assumption

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 15.08.2012 07:00
A national holiday is under way in Poland, with the country marking Armed Forces Day and the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Soldiers rehearse Wednesday's pageantry, Warsaw: photo - PAP/Grzegorz Jakubowski

President Bronislaw Komorowski will be taking part in a mass at 8.30 am at Warsaw's Church of Our Lady Queen of the Polish Crown, the field cathedral of the Polish army.

Komorowski will then lead a ceremony at the Presidential Palace, where five colonels are set to be raised to the rank of general. Four other officers who have already attained the rank of general are also set to receive promotions.

The main pageantry will take place at midday at Pilsudski Square, by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the president is due to speak.

Armed Forces Day, previously known as Soldiers' Day, was marked in pre-war Poland on 15 August, in remembrance of the repulse of the Red Army from Warsaw in the so-called 'Miracle on the Vistula' of 1920.

When a communist regime was installed in Poland following the Second World War, the new authorities switched the celebrations (under a new name) to 12 October, owing to the impossibility of honouring a defeat of a Soviet army.

It was not until 1992, following the collapse of communism, that the original date of 15 August was reinstated.

Meanwhile, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which has been celebrated by Catholics for centuries, has a distinctive dimension in Poland, with the culmination of a time-honoured pilgrimage.

About 250,000 pilgrims will descend on the Jasna Gora Monastery of Czestochowa, home of the country's hallowed Black Madonna icon. (nh)

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